Candidate bio description
JOSEPH GROIA is a principal of Groia & Company one of Canada’s leading securities litigation boutiques. He practices securities litigation, acting as counsel in a wide range of civil, quasi-criminal, criminal, and administrative cases. During his career as a securities litigator Joe has acted as counsel in many of Canada’s most important securities cases including: Asbestos, Bre-X, Canadian Tire, Cinar, Hollinger, Torstar/Southam, Phillip Services, and YBM. Joe has worked in the government (the OSC 1985-1990), a large firm (Heenan Blaikie 1990-2000) and in his own small firm (Groia & Company 2000-2019). Mr. Groia is a frequent teacher, lecturer and speaker at many law schools and continuing education programmes, including the McGill University Meredith Lectures, the Peat Marwick Memorial Lectures, the Law Society of Upper Canada Special Lectures, the Langdon Hall Securities Law Practitioners’ Programme, and the Oxford Conference on International Securities Fraud. In 2007, Mr. Groia and Pamela Hardie published Canada’s first and only textbook on securities litigation, “Securities Litigation and Enforcement”. A second edition followed in 2012. Mr. Groia has been ranked as one of Canada’s 500 Leading Lawyers (Lexpert) since 2000 and is consistently rated as one of Canada’s top securities litigators by the same publication. In January 2008, Mr. Groia was featured as a premier Canadian securities lawyer in Canadian Lawyer Magazine. He was also chosen as one of Canada’s 25 most influential lawyers in 2013 and again in 2018. Mr. Groia’s most noteworthy professional accomplishment was his leadership of the team that successfully defended John Felderhof in the 10 year OSC prosecution of charges arising out of the collapse of Bre-X Minerals Ltd. On June 1, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Mr. Groia’s favour in his professional misconduct case against the Law Society of Ontario. Mr. Groia had been charged with incivility for his zealous defence of Mr. Felderhof in a 10 year prosecution of charges arising out of the collapse of Bre-X Minerals Ltd.
What inspired you to run for bencher this year?
When I decided to run for bencher in 2014, I believed that the Law Society needed to make some significant changes in how it regulated the profession. I believed then, and still believe today that the LSO needs to become a more narrowly focused and disciplined modern regulator. We need to do a better job at our two core mandates of ensuring that lawyers are both honest and competent. We need to stop spending time and money trying to be a super-regulator that jumps into every battle that comes our way.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the legal profession?
We all know that the practice of law is dramatically changing. Over the next four years I expect we will need to start to really deal with the harsh new realities of the legal marketplace. There are far too many candidates for too few articling positions. About one half of all new calls will not find new jobs in the legal profession. At the same time we are wrestling with an access to justice problem. There are solutions – but they are not easy ones and will likely take several years to implement.
What would be your first priority upon election?
I believe that the Law Society needs to stop trying to over-regulate Ontario’s lawyers. We need to make it a priority to see that the Law Society takes another good hard look at how we spend the money that we receive from licensees fees; to look at narrowing the number of initiatives we spend money on and to reduce to a bare minimum the money Benchers' spend on themselves. As I previously said, we need to work harder at doing a better job at our two core mandates; ensuring that lawyers are both honest and competent. To advance our “honesty” mandate, I believe we need to be more proactive; to prevent discipline cases. We need to provide education and mentoring so that lawyers do not make mistakes and provide support to lawyers who are suffering from mental health issues. We also need to apply a balanced approach to discipline cases. An honest lawyer who makes a mistake or is suffering from a health issue should not be prosecuted and should be diverted as early as possible into a non-adversarial process. A dishonest lawyer who steals money from their trust account needs to be disciplined and in many cases we need to work with the police to see that they are charged with a criminal offence. One of the changes that I helped make at the Compensation Fund was to improve our information about prosecution and recovery efforts when we pay out grants to injured clients. To improve our efforts on competency, as a member of the Professional Development and Competency Committee, I supported our decision to expand the range of continuing education programmes. I have spoken out repeatedly on problems with the Articling and LPP programmes and the serious concerns that I have with the qualifications of many of the NCA candidates.
What do you hope to achieve over the next four years as a member of Convocation?
If I am re-elected I will do my very best to continue to represent the interests of the mainstream of the profession – especially those lawyers at small firms who are often over-looked as we deal with the demands of more vocal and organized groups. We cannot act in the public interest if we over-regulate small firms and thereby reduce the chances that legal fees can become more affordable.
What's the most pressing concern for the profession in your region of the province?
Our region of the province is grappling with a changing profession, a shortage of articling positions and an access to justice problem.
Do you support the requirement to create and abide by a statement of principles?
In my last term, I supported diversity and equality initiatives, especially for those who have their own principles and live by them, by asking for a conscientious objection option in the Statement of Principles. While my motion was unsuccessful, I believe we won the war by making it clear that a lawyer’s SOP does not need to espouse prescribed values – it is enough to say that I am a person of tolerance and respect and that I live by my conscience and faith.